Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Mercedes Retro F-Cell Roadster Buggy

Daimler trainees (aka junior employees) have been hard at work on a legit concept called the "F-CELL Roadster." I love the idea of immersing the younger generation on alternate energy and its ins and outs. The old-timey look with its large spoked wheels is married to carbon fiber bucket seats and a drive-by-wire central joystick. The 1.2 kW powertrain has a top end speed of 15.5 mph and 217 mile range.

Do these Michelin's come with a 60K warranty?

Michelin tires has moved its sticky know-how to tennis shoes. The Research & Development lab at Michelin mated proven auto racing technology with a special Optimized Cell System that features seamless circular micro-cells for inspiring grip and optimized durability. Word is we might even see a pair on the court at the U.S. Open.


Many moons ago I worked as the Photo Editor at award-winning Wayne State University student newspaper - The South End. When securing credentials for events, staffers could proudly say we were the third largest daily newspaper in Detroit.

The South End
newspaper had a long history of rebellion against the establishment. In the late 1960's the paper had ties to the Black Panthers and the League of Revolutionary Black Workers (LRBW). One of the more prominent members of the LRBW was Ken Cockrel, father of the acting mayor of Detroit, Ken Cockrel Jr.

A few years prior to joining The South End staff the editor-in-chief Patricia Maceroni took a stand against against running advertising from branches of the U.S. military. She was fired from her position only to win it back after challenging the firing in court. Maceroni currently works as a Criminal Defense Attorney in Mount Clemens, Michigan. The paper was suddenly radical again.

My tenure at The South End newspaper was from 1987-1991 - the same years the WSU was listed in Ami Chen Mills' book "CIA Off Campus" as a college where anti-CIA actions took place. The main story at Wayne State was in the 1988-1989 time frame when roughly 200 students had a 12-day "sit-in" at the administration building protesting racist incidents that occurred on campus. Steve Herppich, the towering Photo Editor who hired me, covered most of the sit-in and thrived on the stand-off.

Robert "Rob" Lasker was the Editor-in-Chief during most of this era. He was a brilliant, understated, conscientious friend who taught me a lot about writing while at the paper. Rob loved volunteering time at WDET (at that time in the same building) and also had a nice showing on the game-show "Jeopardy." The military advertisements and CIA recruiting were a big deal then, but my memory is jaded since I was taking Army ROTC rifle and pistol classes at the University of Detroit. Perhaps my own form of rebellion as a conservative?

A recent article "Has the Intelligence Community Tamed American Colleges?" written by Isaac Eister of The South End newspaper touches on the government in colleges topic once again.

According to Eister, the Intelligence Community, or IC, is made up of the CIA, FBI, and fifteen other gov't agencies - are hoping to expand their presence at Wayne State University and other college campuses across the United States.

Ten U.S. colleges are marked for the strategic launch of the recruiting program: Wayne State University, California State University - San Bernardino, Clark Atlanta University, Florida International University, Norfolk State University, Tennessee State University, Trinity University, University of Texas - El Paso, University of Texas - Pan American and University of Washington.

Of course Wayne State is highly coveted because of its rich Middle Eastern community. WSU's program is called the Center of Academic Excellence-National Security Intelligence Studies. That's a mouthful.

Kenneth Love, Rochester Institute of Technology student and member of the National Coordinating Committee of the Campus Antiwar Network is a former Army ROTC cadet. He stated in Eister's article,
“I know students that created technology using mathematical algorithms to detect terrorist activity among radical minded students on the popular social networking website Facebook … students who created through computer science technology better programs to catch dialect on the telephones, especially Arabic.”
Advertising Age had a story, "CIA Turn to Mainstream Media for Recruiting" that highlighted the CIA is currently recruiting for its National Clandestine Service Unit. With the economy in such rough shape, it will be easier to reach out to a traditionally hard-to-reach Middle Eastern community. According to the Adage article,
"The agency has not only tried what it previously called peer-to-peer marketing by being on Facebook -- a move that was promptly met by a Facebook group called "CIA Out of Facebook" -- but its presence back on college campuses has actually gone better than expected."
The South End newspaper interviewed Vanee Vines, a spokesperson for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence about the new program. According to Vines,
"...the nation faces increasingly complex global threats. As a result, the Intelligence Community must have a work force that reflects America's diversity and has a deep understanding of global cultures; foreign languages; science, technology, engineering, math, and economics; plus other key issues."
Many of my friends work for the U.S. Government and others have multiple applications in process at TACOM and other agencies. The word is the government jobs are more stable and "economy proof." This is especially true in the Detroit metro area with its heavy dependence upon the automotive industry. If we can prevent another 9/11 by recruiting spies at WSU - bring it on.

Monday, March 23, 2009

New York Times Delivers

The Detroit Free Press is going digital, well sort of. They are cutting daily delivery of the paper to three days a week. The morning ritual of coffee and a newspaper is ruined. Irate customers are writing in declaring their loyal dog will be in a fix without a paper to retrieve.

Management at the Detroit Media Partnership are trying to shift to a digital delivery of the news. Unfortunately, even though our family is entrenched in the digital domain, the facto-o-the matter is that we still like the renewable resource of tactile paper. You can use it to train a puppy in the finer matters and it can be split into sections - comics to the kids, sports to dad, and lifestyle to the wife. I'm not going to buy a Kindle 2 device for everyone. We only have one computer and that my Freep-friends is the dilemma.

An ad posted recently that caught my eye. The New York Times must have a local zip-code driven targeted advertisement in the Free Press hinterland. The Free Press has been trying to keep loyal readers from defecting to the Oakland Press with an option of mail delivery. It worked for my uncle, but came too late for my family. We already switched allegiances to the Oakland Press (even though its parent company has filed for chapter 11 protection). Now the NYT is advertising daily delivery for $3.35 a week. I know the digital age is here ... but I still want ink on my fingers.

Mortgaging the Future of our Kids

A CNN commentary by Mark Sanford revealed some interesting information about the Stimulus bill:
"As for the jobs created in the short-term, what's the cost? The Heritage Foundation crunched the president's own numbers and came up with this startling figure: for every single job the bill creates, American taxpayers will spend $223,000."
That kind of ROI wouldn't fly in any real-world business sector. I don't know why our government should be held to a different measure of success. Mark closed his argument with this poignant statement:
"The president's stimulus represents the largest and most invasive economic action in our government's history. For a relatively small number of short-term jobs, this administration and this Congress are poised to mortgage the economic future of my four boys and the millions of young Americans just like them. To me, that's simply not a morally acceptable outcome."
What do you think?

Crisis in Context

LinkThe clear voice of infographics is better than a cacophony of eloquent experts expousing their elegant financial crisis theories. The flowchart has grown up - check out for more.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Wrangler Sales Way Up

The Wrangler and Wrangler Unlimited sales are going through the Sunrider® soft top roof. That's all relative today, but sales are brisk according to Wrangler sales are up 28.1% compared to 2008. And they're bound to get better this spring. While Wrangler may not be included in lists of top-10 convertibles - it has every right to be. Wrangler isn't classified as a convertible, but everyone knows the wind-in-your-hair freedom that can only come with the top down while four-wheeling. And no other vehicle in America has a fold-down front windshield.

This past year we upgraded the Web site to include many of these "only-in-a-Wrangler" features. As the Senior Copywriter and lead Jeep content manager I worked with our multi-talented creative team to bolster up the original 4x4 freedom machine's presence on-line. We added loads of content about the removable doors, Sunrider® Soft Top and Freedom Top three-piece modular hardtop, Mopar® accessories, and much more. The Trail Rated®, Rubicon, and off-road performance sections were beefed as well. The Jeep team did a marvelous job of conveying the freedom that can only be had in a Wrangler 4x4. Our clients were elated and sales have continued to rise despite the economic doldrum.

Compare that with the Toyota FJ. According to sales have tanked 55 % compared to 2008. 'Nuff said.


First off - I need to say I love the company name. TH¡NK "City" electric cars may be coming stateside - that is if they can get a piece of the $25 billion the Department of Energy has allocated to automotive retooling and advanced technology programs. The Norwegian automaker is hoping business is better in the U.S. than in Norway. This past December, TH¡NK went into Norway's version of chapter 11 bankruptcy. This was only after two months of production.

The City is a little bigger than the diminutive Smart fourtwo electric vehicle. The trunk is miniscule. The four passenger seating is welcome, but a 62 mph top speed and 112 mile range may not be enough for many folks. Also of concern is the cost - $20,000 with a $90 monthly lease plan for batteries. How this new vehicle with no track history is going to compete with the all-new Honda Insight Hybrid that's starting under $20,000 is beyond me. Right thinking, wrong timing, and wrong URL -

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Information Chunking in Digital Age

This has to be one of my favorite blogger sites of late: In an age where everything is getting more complicated, maps and graphs give us a visual snack of data. Well-crafted maps and graphs are easy to understand, and have the ability to convey a wealth of information in a single image. Above all, they must be coherent. The importance of graphs and maps will inherently become more important with the exponential growth of information. Take a look at the site and you'll find many are thought provoking, others are exquisite in their beauty, and some are pure genius.

One of my favorite is the "Watch the Road: World's Earliest SatNav" - an ingenious watch-type device of the 1920's called the 'Routefinder' that featured an interchangeable scroll where the user would see a close-up map of the road and wind the map at new mile markers. Thus tracking distance, sites of interest, etc. Go to for more.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Stimulus Scams – don’t get hooked

The stimulus scam bandwagon is making its rounds on the internet in deceptive Web sites, advertisements and e-mail campaigns. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is getting the word out that Slick looking ads promise consumers thousands of dollars in stimulus grants – they only need to pay a small credit card fee, for as little as $1.99 (Each scam is different so beware). The scammers claim they’ll help you skip the red tape and take care of all the details for you. It’s a ruse of royal proportions. The $787-billion stimulus package is so complex, not even the Senators are really clear on what all is included.

These scam artists are exploiting that confusion with clever ads on Facebook, and on WordPress blogs that feature fake testimonials. Worse yet, the crooks could walk away with your identity.

Watch out for official-looking Internal Revenue Service (IRS) e-mails that promise stimulus payment. The IRS never requests private information via e-mail. Never give out your bank account information over the internet unless you are positive of the recipient.

Some of the bogus websites:

“Hi, my name is Jessica and I’m from Bloomfield Hills, MI. I started this blog because I want everyone to know how I went from being a struggling single mom to paying off all my debt in a few months simply by spending a couple minutes filling out a few forms online!”

A article said the state's consumer watchdog office warns about some of the scams it has detected:

• People are urged to give bank details so that their portion of stimulus money will be deposited into their bank accounts. The scam artists then empty the bank accounts.

• A person is asked to verify personal information to qualify for stimulus money; the scam artists then use the details to commit identity theft.

• A consumer is offered a list of economic stimulus grants, which supposedly include money for individuals, in exchange for charging as little as $1.99 on a credit card. The charge is actually a down payment for "negative-option billing," in which a consumer must decline the option of automatically receiving goods and being billed for them.

• Sometimes, a person only has to click on links provided in an e-mail to inadvertently download spyware used to steal personal information.

Words to the wise - watch out for these crooks.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Shell's lab is better kept top secret

If anyone has money to put together a slick Web site – it’s the oil companies. Revenues are down, but not enough to stop advertising. Shell has an educational Web site designed by J. Walter Thompson (Houston), to support their passionate experts campaign. The site features an interactive lab where you can learn more about Shell's “Passionate Experts,” including some Little Known Facts in the Shell Scientists profiles. Some of the choice nuggets: “I used to be a very good windsurfer.” And “I used to play the drums many years ago.” Who cares what you used to do?!

The actor in the lab coat kept asking “(bug sigh) so … formulas, chemistry … just waiting for you,” even though I was engaged in their lab. Very annoying.

It took a while to finally find out what was different about V-Power besides lab coats telling me it gets rid of gunk.

This site is too busy, lacks focus and has some very annoying audio bugs. Speaking about bugs, why not recruit the Mucinex guys, or Digger the Dermatophyte to clean up engines on the weekends for JWT.

Quality Gas is a Shell Game

Not all gasoline is the same. So say’s Shell.

Shell is pushing its new “Nitrogen Enriched” V-Power gasoline additive that promises to help reduce performance-robbing carbon deposit (a.k.a. gunk) build up in the engine. This can include sticky intake valves and clogged fuel injectors. Shell's Web site states:

“Gunky-build up can reduce an engine’s ability to breath, and can be a result of using lower quality gasolines. With five times the amount of cleaning agents required by Federal government standards, Shell V-Power gasoline can protect your engine and actively clean intake valves and injectors.”

According to NPD Group’s monthly customer-behavior research, 70-percent of consumers say price plays the most important role in their gasoline purchase decision. Price is king.

Many car owners are keeping their vehicles longer, and most gasoline companies are using some sort of additive to help reduce gunk. But it can be hit or miss. Is it worth taking the chance?

Andrew Buczynsky, General Motor’s fuel guru recommends using quality gasoline approved by one of the eight companies at to help reduce your chances of getting a “check engine” light.

More than 700 reports of injector problems were logged with the Wisconsin Department of Commerce in 2004 due to low-quality fuel (40-percent from Citgo stations).

Are you willing to play the Shell game?

Try Ladies Tea

What's more social than a Ladies Tea? I found this wonderful site through a digital back door or sorts. A friend on Facebook forwarded a clever "Original Design Gangsta" video she found on YouTube. The video, produced in 2007, was good enough to keep my attention until the credits ... Thought I'd check it out. Nice clean site - my attention was drawn to a plug on his site: "Noteworthy - My wife's BRILLIANT networking idea for women."

Click on it and it takes you to created by Kyle's wife Sonja Webster (Bunzendahl). Brilliant it is. Beautiful design and a wonderful concept that blends a traditional social network idea (ladies teas) and brings it into the digital domain.

An excerpt from the FAQs page:

"The Ladies Tea provides quality lady-time that will inevitably open new doors for you. When you get a diverse group of open-minded and positive women together, so much can happen: a new friendship, an idea, a job opportunity, a valuable life lesson… host The Ladies Tea and see! Hosting The Ladies Tea definitely makes a positive statement about you and your interests. It says that you are a modern and classy lady, eager to network with other ladies who want the most out of life and are open to new ideas."

Who wouldn't want to be modern, classy and want the most out of life? Any time my wife comes back from a Ladies Tea she's happy. Anything that brings happiness at a minimal cost is bound to succeed in today's world. Sugar anyone?

Friday, March 6, 2009 is Social Slick

The Palm Pre promises to be effortlessly blend a sea of social networks into one easy-to-use device. We did something similar at the Jeep brand when we pooled all the social media sites into one hub. The innovative Jeep Experience portal is the collective home to Flickr, YouTube, Facebook, MySpace and more. It's your one-stop-shop for everything Jeep.

Now Skittles has launched and it's based on a floating navigation menu that remains the same regardless of the social media site your on. Instead of importing videos or photos to their site, or linking the user out to Flickr, or YouTube - the navigation follows you on your path to social serenity. While this navigation system won't work for most applications - it is a strong hint at things to come in the future in regards to fluid infrastructure and seamless integration to social networks. Bravo to the Media Planner who bought into this elegant experiment.

Trend Tracker

You can search Google News for the latest on the web, but that's usually boring PR stuff. For more off-the-wall material use Google Trends. It's a great resource for seeing the election spike for Obama or more useful stuff like the celebrity look a like generator (#12 on the list for today). It's rated Spicy on the Hotness scale.

Clever Copy

Being lost on a site is never a good thing. TGSCOM, Inc. solved this problem with an ad stating they need help in their IT dept. Clever.